My son, like many, many 6-year-olds, loves superheroes. He loves the gadgets and the cars, but most of all, he loves the good-guy bad-guy story. But he won’t be seeing the next batman movie Batman 3: The Dark Knight Rises. That moody Batman with his shades of grey and complicated Joker isn’t particularly welcome in our house. And what ever happened to a superhero’s sense of humor?
Full disclosure: I’ve never seen either of the Dark Knight Batman movies, but I’ve seen clips from it on You Tube, and they always leave me wondering why superheroes had to get so complicated and grim.
Batman movies and cartoons may never have been for 6-year-olds, but they were once meant for 9 and 10-year-olds. I’m not sure I’d want my 10-year-old to see any of The Dark Knight movies. Come to think of it, there’s a lot in a lot of kids movies that seems a bit too old and much too rought.
It’s not like violence in kids’ movies is anything new. I’ve watched the classic versions of Cinderella and Snow White with my kids. Both have scenes where an animal or witch falls to its death. But you don’t see it. In a movie like The Tale of Despereaux or even the newer Scooby Doos, much less is left to the imagination. Is it better to leave violence unseen?
Still, this is a different problem than the problem of Batman or even Spiderman which mix up the good-guy/bad guy story lines and in which lots and lots of things blow up. Of course, those movies aren’t made for 8-to-10-year-olds. They’re made to appeal to 18-35-year olds and they appeal to them with both violence and nostalgia.
Even a 19-year-old can get nostalgic for the Michael Keaton Batman of his youth. Whether or not Keaton’s Batman was any better is up for debate. I’m sure parents in the mid 90s were just as worn out by endless pestering to see a movie about which they had misgivings. At least there’s always an action figure to buy.
Will you let your kids see the new Batman?